The Land of Nod (Hebrew: ’eretz-Nod) is a place in the Book of Genesis of the Hebrew Bible, located "to the east of Eden", to which Cain chose to flee after murdering his brother Abel. The Hebrew word nod means "wandering".
- "And Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden." (Genesis 4:16, King James Version)
"Nod" (נוד) is the Hebrew root of the verb "to wander" (לנדוד) and is possibly an etymological etiology intended to explain the peripatetic lifestyle of Cain and his descendants, the Cainites. One interpretation of Genesis 4:16 is that Cain was cursed to wander the land forever, not that he was exiled to a "Land of Wanderers", otherwise absent from the Old Testament.
Places named "Land of Nod"
Popular culture references
One of American writer John Steinbeck's most famous novels is called "East of Eden". The betrayal of a brother is one of its central themes.
The Land of Nod also refers to the mythical land of sleep, a pun on Land of Nod (Gen. 4:16). To “go off to the land of Nod,” or to “nod off,” is to go to sleep. The first recorded use of the phrase to mean "sleep" comes from Jonathan Swift in his Complete Collection of Polite and Ingenious Conversation (1737) and Gulliver's Travels. Another early instance of this use appears in the poem The Land of Nod" by Robert Louis Stevenson from the A Child's Garden of Verses and Underwoods(1885) collection.
In the World of Darkness role-playing setting by White Wolf Game Studio, the land of Nod is the home in exile of Caine, the first vampire. God's curse upon Caine is interpreted as transforming him and his line into vampires. This is a vague reference to themes in the epic "Beowulf."
The biblical quote is mentioned in the Command & Conquer video game, and is thought to be the origin of the name for the Brotherhood of Nod, as the group's charismatic leader is also known only as Kane. Kane's command center, known as the Temple of Nod, also houses a coffin bearing the name Abel upon its surface, and the preserved body of his most trusted officer, Seth, whom Kane shot in the head after Seth's attempted coup d'état. Their relationship is never explained; however, upon introducing himself to the player, Seth states that he is "Seth. Just Seth. From God, to Kane, to Seth."
Billy Thorpe closed his album "Children of the Sun ... Revisited" with the song "East of Eden's Gate."
Canadian indie band Stars mentions the Land of Nod in the title track to their album "The Comeback EP": "Just got back from the land of Nod..."
Tom Waits mentions the land of Nod in his song "Singapore" from the 1985 album Rain Dogs: "We sail tonight for Singapore, we're all as mad as hatters here I've fallen for a tawny Moor, took off to the land of Nod..."
Musician/cartoonist Sean Hartter refers to "Nod" as a place with his "The Man From Nod"  electronic/live music project. Here "Nod" is meant to be a wilderness of jumbled ideas and disjointed notions, the opposite of Eden...much more like the state of a dreaming mind.
The heavy stoner metal band High On Fire included a song called "Return To Nod" on their album Death Is This Communion, probably referring to the act of returning to the state of sleep, opiate intoxication or exile (or all of the above).
The German rock group Unloved uses the phrase "heading nod" in the corresponding song from the 2006 album "Killersongs" as a metaphor for dealing with unpardonable guilt. Nod becomes not a certain land but a state of self-forgiveness ("It only remains for me to leave, a ridiculous 'sorry' on my lips. it only remains for me to live, telling, I didn't mean it").
Dave Matthews made popular a song written by Daniel Lanois called "The Maker". In it is a reference to the Land of Nod otherwise called East of Eden: "Brother John, have you seen the homeless daughters standing here with broken wings. I have seen the flaming swords there over east of Eden".
There is a Psychedelic Folk Rock band from Providence, RI called "Allysen Callery & the Land of Nod", that took the title from Robert Lewis Stevenson's poem by the same name.
East of Eden was a British rock band from the 1960s/1970's.
Classic Rock group, The Eagles, titled their latest album "East of Eden"
The Red Hot Chili Peppers song "21st Century" refers to Cain and Abel. Anthony Kiedis compares himself and Flea (the bass guitarist) to Cain and Abel in his autobiography Scar Tissue. This may also be a Land of Nod reference as Anthony has battled with heroin addiction and is well known for layered meanings in his lyrics.
Colloquially, the state of heroin or opioid intoxication is referred to as "being in the land of Nod". This is because the most pleasant phase of the high is characterized by people "nodding off" into their own little world.
Uses in Literature:
In Inherit the Wind, the character Henry Drummond (based on Clarence Darrow), says, "And Cain went out from the presence of the Lord and dwelt in the land of Nod on the East of Eden and Cain knew his wife. Now where the hell did she come from?"
In Roald Dahl's The BFG, the Big Friendly Giant tells the Queen and Head of the Army, "Every afternoon all these giants is in the Land of Noddy." Sophie then says, "He means the Land of Nod. It's pretty obvious."